The type and variety of cheeses can be both astounding and overwhelming at times, often making the decision of which one to cheese an exercise in both delight and frustration. To make it even harder, many cheeses on display in the cheese case do not fall into the “eye-candy” sphere, unless you’re a real cheese nut.
One cheese that does catch the eye is Carr Valley’s award-winning Caso Bolo Mellage, from Wisconsin. It’s a bright yellow ball, about 8 inches in diameter that really stands out in the display case. Cut into wedges, the paste is a nice ivory color framed by the yellow wax coating; it looks more like a decoration rather than a delicious edible. My recommendation – try it if you spot it. It’s really good.
This is a mixed-milk cheese, made from a blend of sheep, cow, and goat. The cow portion is Holstein; all of the milks are sourced from local dairies. The cheese is aged for 2 years using a secret process (according to Carr) that keeps the cheese pliable and the rind unblemished. Many 2-year cheeses get rather firm by this time, but Caso Bolo has an appearance and consistency that’s akin to a fresh or a younger cheese. The wax coating is applied right before shipping. The coating is removed before serving, leaving the whole cheese edible (there is a bit of residue from the wax left behind that can be lightly scraped off).
The paste has a matte, soft appearance. The aroma is pleasant without being overwhelming. It delivered brown butter and caramel, sweet nuts, a touch of herbal notes, and a hint of milk. The texture is soft, melty, and a bit grainy. The flavor is really rich; the aging comes out here, with nutty, buttery, and herbal notes, and a nice, long finish that remains pleasant and delivers hints of caramel and butterscotch. It’s quite delicious.
At a recent tasting, we tried this cheese with a variety of wines, and found that it worked well with Figge Cellars Pelio Chardonnay, from Monterrey, and surprisingly will with Susana Balbo’s Crios Torrontes, from Argentina. The torrontes seemed to make the cheese a bit sweeter, while the wine took of the typical vegetal bitterness typical of the torrontes finish.
Over the past few years, this cheese has won some notable awards as well: First place in the 2011 US Cheese Championship, first place in the 2010 World Cheese championship, and first place in the 2010 Wisconsin State Fair. Not bad.
In the red family, the cheese worked OK with Bear Boat Pinot Noir, and with Turley’s Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel, but was very nice with Nickel and Nickels’ Russian River Valley Syrah. With the Pinot, the cheese and the wine basically held their own. The zin overcame the cheese, leaving only a hint of flavor. With the Syrah, the cheese took on a very beefy, meaty, rich flavor, while the wine’s tannins were softened just a bit by the cheese.
The cheese makes a nice presentation on a tasting board, especially if you leave a portion of the wax on a wedge, and frame it with some fruit or compote that can be eaten with the serving portion of the cheese.
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